The Lindsay Thurber Raiders will still be one of the younger teams in the Central Alberta High School Football League this season, but they won’t be lacking experience.
“We didn’t graduate that many and have a real strong group of Grade 11s and 12s returning,” said Raiders head coach Dave Smith. “Plus we have a whole bunch of good Grade 10s up from our junior program.”
The Raiders, who have 62 players in camp, did lose their top running back, Todd Tulman, but will return second-year and Grade 11 quarterback Braydon Moorman, who Smith feels is developing into one of the better pivots in the conference.
“He has one more year under his belt and you can tell he’s developing as a quarterback,” said Smith. “He’s maturing, seeing the field better and developing exactly how we want him to.
“Plus it’s nice that we have a talented backup in Ben Pasiuk, who is up from the juniors.”
Pasiuk was one of the premier bantam players in the province last year and will see duty in the offensive backfield as well.
“He’s a gifted player and we’re definitely looking forward to seeing what he will do.”
Brad Pope, who is also up from the bantam program, will see duty at running back along with Bryce Maki and Sam Vesely, both of whom will also play in the defensive backfield.
“We definitely feel we have a wealth of talent in the backfield and we only lost our centre off the offensive line,” said Smith.
Grade 12 right guard Tanner Warren will be one of the anchors on the line while Tony Morrelli, who played with the midget Prairie Fire, will be at left guard.
“We have several players who played with the Prairie Fire, which was great for their development,” added Smith, who could use his linemen to go both ways.
“But really we have a big enough roster we’re hoping we don’t have to have guys going both ways, although early on we may have to as some of the new guys get their feet wet.”
The Raiders will have time to work on their game as they open the season with a pair of non-conference games that don’t count in the standings.
They opened with a 44-12 win over the Trojans in Camrose Thursday and host the Rocky Mountain House Rebels next Friday at 4:30 p.m. at Great Chief Park.
“Playing a pair of exhibition games right off the bat takes a little pressure off and gives us a chance to see exactly what we have and for the younger players to gain some experience. It’s a big jump from bantam to high school,” said Smith, who looks for linebacker Cody Hawkes to anchor the defence.
As well Owen Smith, who also played with the Fire, returns at safety and as their place kicker.
Pasiuk scored three touchdowns against Camrose while Bryce Maki and Brad Pope added one each. Additional information was unavailable.
l The Raiders play in a division with the Notre Dame Cougars, two-time defending champion Hunting Hills Lightning, the Sylvan Lake Lakers and the Lacombe Rams . . . Dean Pasiuk and Jeff McRorie have been added to the coaching staff joining Aaron Sheppard, Brian Plastow, Devon Hand, Jay Hetherington, Scott Nielsen and Kyle Liptak.